Apple Struggles to Curb Apple TV+ Content Piracy Online

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 12 Oct 2021

Apple TV+

It appears that online piracy has tagged along with the growing popularity of Apple TV+ despite Apple’s deliberate efforts to take down pirated content.

Piracy is mostly fueled by torrent websites. A report in August found that the top five piracy websites raised $18.3 million in ad revenue. According to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), over 80 percent of piracy is that of streamable content and this costs companies around $71 billion each year. All this is despite Google’s and ISPs’ active crackdown on such websites. The websites remain accessible since operators regularly go domain-hopping and create proxies too.

Apple became a victim of this billion-dollar illegal industry since the launch of Apple TV+ in November 2019. MacRumors discovered that Apple’s most popular shows and movies have at least 2,000 active seeders, going up to 125,000 seeders per title in some cases. “Ted Lasso”, “The Morning Show”, and “SEE” have reportedly been downloaded the most. This growth has proliferated because Apple’s privacy prevention statement for software doesn’t cover its entertainment content. Instead, its terms and conditions of service do.

Apple has joined the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to partner with several firms specializing in digital copyright protection. These partners issue DMCA takedown orders for pirated content found online. One such known Apple partner called Corsearch issued 320,000+ such orders to Google. However, DMCA orders just prevent Google from indexing and displaying the sites hosting the pirated content. The content continues to live online and thanks to the pirates’ domain hopping, it soon becomes available on other URLs.

Apple could directly issue a DMCA takedown order to the host of the pirated content. However, this opens another proverbial can of worms because most piracy websites don’t host the Apple TV+ content itself but host links to seeds on a peer-to-peer torrent network. There are several thousand seeds that host the content. MacRumors found that most such link aggregator websites are hosted on Cloudflare, a popular content delivery network (CDN). Cloudflare’s policy dictates that it cannot directly take down websites but it can redirect cases of copyright infringement to the owner of the piracy website. This proves to be another dead end for Apple.

However, not all seems to be lost. Actioned DMCA orders showed that Apple prefers to single out smaller piracy websites that host pirated Apple TV+ content infrequently. 91.2 percent of these DMCA takedown orders get actioned. Until Apple goes after the larger piracy websites and as long as more players vie for market share in the video streaming industry, the problem will only worsen. The iPhone manufacturer refused to comment on the matter.

Let us know in the comments below what the root cause of piracy is and why Apple is such a popular victim. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

[Via MacRumors]